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‘Sistah Summit’ in Boston says

‘Bail out women, not the banks’

Published Mar 19, 2009 7:46 PM

A thoroughly multinational crowd of more than 50 women and supporters filled the cafeteria of Roxbury Community College on the afternoon of March 14 for an International Women’s Day “Sistah Summit—Women Rise Up” event organized by the Women’s Fightback Network (WFN). The program was chaired by Miya X, Rachel Hassinger and Dorotea Manuela.

WW photo: Stevan Kirschbaum

Teresa Gutierrez, coordinator of the May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights in New York City, which is mobilizing for massive May Day demonstrations, gave the keynote talk. Gutierrez is also a coordinator with the International Migrant Alliance. She spoke movingly of women in Mexico organizing communities to bring food to migrants on trains on their way north and fighting back against conditions of sexual slavery.

She went on to condemn the trillions of dollars being given to the bankers and called on everyone to come out for the April 3 mobilization on Wall Street being organized by the Bail Out the People Movement. Many in attendance expressed enthusiasm and signed up to get on the buses to the Wall Street demonstration. The women also signed on to the WFN’s petition to the governor demanding an economic state of emergency be declared to defend the people from the economic crisis.

Miya X discussed the history of International Women’s Day and described the march in New York City on March 8 to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, site of the 1911 fire and women’s resistance from which International Women’s Day was born. She also led a tribute to Odetta, Miriam Mikeba and other sister warriors who died in 2008.

Dorotea Manuela saluted working women warriors, including those who carried through the Flint sit-down strike to victory in 1937. Sandra McIntosh of Work for Quality, Fight for Equity spoke of the struggle for access to quality education, which is under attack in Boston. Palestinian activist Layla Hijab Cable gave an inspiring historical overview of Palestinian women resisting Zionist occupation, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Diva Lisa Green gave moving testimony about domestic violence and organizing efforts to fight back against it. Josephina Vazquez of the Boston Women’s Fund shared her history as a member of the Young Lords Party and spoke of how those lessons need to be applied today.

Amanda Ali of the young women’s group Reflect and Strengthen told how the economic crisis is rolling over youth—with school closings, homes being lost and domestic violence rising—and how youth need to organize locally but also stand in solidarity with struggles for justice everywhere, like in Palestine.

Tasha of New Era, a youth organizing project focusing on the HIV epidemic, spoke of her group’s efforts to bring resources and awareness to young people on protecting themselves and staying healthy.

A highlight of the afternoon was a stirring traditional Mexican dance performance by La Piñata, a troupe of 30 young people led by Rosalba Solís.